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Remarkable Minds (4 out of 5)

Remarkable MindsWritten as a sequel to Magnificent Minds, Remarkable Minds, unearths seventeen pioneering women in the fields of science, medicine, mathematics, and engineering. These preeminent women, both married and single, span seven different countries.

Exhibited among them is Maria Gaetana Agnesi of Italy who was the first woman to author and overseer the printing of an advanced mathematics textbook; Elizabeth Fulhame who pioneered the art of depositing bits of metal in silk to produce shimmering cloth; Hertha Ayrton, who established a sanctuary for women released from prison, was the first woman electrical engineer.

Even though the timeline title for Jane Cooke Wright, chemotherapy pioneer and first African American to receive a medical degree from Yale, is inconsistent with the actual birth of Jane Cooke Wright, the timelines for each woman along with a well-balanced array of pictures provides visual frames of reference.

This text not only gives factual information but shares obstacles to achievement along with the women’s determination and resilience. Remarkable Minds, therefore, is motivating. For instance, Sophie Germain’s parents ‘worried about her health and the effects of study on the female mind’ and limited her study time. As an adult, Sophie suffered pain and breast cancer, yet she made substantial contributions to the field of mathematics.

Gerty Cori, a victim of gender bias, explained how sugar is stored in the liver and released for use in the muscles. Although her salary was one fifth of her husband’s, “Gerty published four papers on the effects of radiation on stained and unstained skin and on the metabolism of different body organs.” Another example is that of Helen Taussig who suffered dyslexia and hearing loss. Not the less, she published some forty-one papers and became the first female president of the American Heart Association. The stories in Remarkable Minds exemplify the value of persistence.

This historical work contains morsels of information such as the process of putrefaction, fallacy of the Phlogiston theory, discovery and identification of tuberculosis bacillus, the initial use of nuclear medicine, etc. All of which provide a backdrop to contextualize and clarify the biographies of such meritorious women.

I highly recommend that Remarkable Minds be used as a textbook and reference for multicultural education as well as part of any STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum.

My favorite quote: “Whatever field you choose, just work quietly and steadily to make this world a better place, and your life will be worthwhile.” – Helen Taussig as quote by Pendred E. Noyce

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